28 April 2023 — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is calling for urgent action to address the devastating impacts of climate change on the people and communities of East Africa. A new study from the World Weather Attribution group concludes that human-caused climate change has made agricultural drought 100 times more likely in the region, which is contributing to the sixth season of failed rains. However, East Africa only accounts for less than 1% of global gas emissions - making it disproportionately affected.
4.3 million people in the region are facing challenges in accessing food and water, leading to malnutrition and increased displacement. There are limited resources and infrastructure for people to cope with continued weather shocks. In Somalia, an estimated 43,000 excess deaths may have occurred as a result of the ongoing drought, with 8.3 million people - nearly half the population - requiring immediate humanitarian aid.
Shashwat Sharif, the IRC’s Emergency Director of East Africa, said:
"The new study from the World Weather Attribution group illustrates the harsh reality for people and communities in East Africa. They are facing hunger, malnutrition, and increased incidences of disease, and are struggling to get basic necessities like food and water. The IRC is working to address the immediate needs of those affected by the drought by providing emergency food assistance, access to clean water and sanitation services, healthcare and nutrition services, as well as efforts to build the resilience of affected communities.
“With the impacts of climate change set to worsen the frequency and intensity of climate events, we cannot continue to ignore what is already happening to the world's most vulnerable populations. It is crucial that the international community takes urgent action to support the people and communities that have contributed least to climate change with the necessary resources and tools to recover and adapt to a crisis not of their making.”
The IRC in East Africa
East Africa is home to some of the IRC’s longest-running programmes globally, with operations in Somalia for over 40 years, Kenya for 30 years and Ethiopia for 20 years. Today, over 2,000 IRC staff in the region are scaling up our programmes to address the current drought and rising food insecurity, including expanding to new areas to meet severe needs.